This is Rhett (Full name Hieronymous Rhett Thomas O’Brien Puppy). He is almost 8 years old here in this photo. See my separate Pet Food Rant. I am passionate about creating a tipping point in the food industry where we hold companies accountable, with our awareness and wallets, to producing good quality foods for us and our pets. I spent a year studying with Hippocrates Health Institute, then studying Canine Nutrition and want to share what I know to help anyone who wants to listen. 🙂
Kibble is easy, and as a Canine Massage Therapist, I work with a few rescue groups who feed kibble. It’s cheap and easy. The problems with it though are many. Firstly, it dehydrates your dog (or cat). Sure the animal will most likely drink more water but in many cases, they will not get enough to compensate for the lack of moisture. Next, most kibble utilizes a high heat extruded process that essentially wipes out all nutrition and all natural enzymes vital for proper bioavailability/digestion. This is why the label will say proudly ‘Added Vitamins and minerals’ or some such. It’s because they HAVE to! There’s no nutrition left in the over processed product. Finally, what goes into these kibbles runs the gammut in quality, from animal parts unknown and awful such as chicken feathers and feet to rendered carcinogenic cows. On the higher end of the spectrum (you doing your research and asking questions and feeling decent about serving a particular kibble) you may get something holistic, organic, human grade etc. Orijen for example does not use the high heat extruded process on their kibble. I realize folks have budgets. We can only do our best right? If you have one dog, it’s easier to spoil them than it is if you have five. We do what we can.
Add SuperFoods – There are superfoods that you can augment any meal of choice with. In the book below, I note a recipe and as a Canine bodyworker, I also sell one too; human food grade bone and joint supplements. Superfoods add micronutrition to the food. In this day and age with soil erosion, pesticides, man-made chemicals in nearly everything, bad air and water, we (all of us) need all the help with minernals, nutrition and detox that we can get.
Go Organic, wild crafted, holistic, Non-GMO – This is the very best way to avoid Genetically Mutated/Modified Organisms, pesticides, questionable meats and other ingredients that will otherwise be present in the pet food you buy. The label should tell you it is certified organic and many times will also tell you it is GMO free. The best of both worlds is seeing both statements on the label.
What is Holistic? – Holistic simply means taking a whole or entire body approach to resolving concerns. Western Medicine looks at symptoms and then how to treat that symptom. Many times this works great. I have a headache, I take an aspirin, headache remedied. But when we delve into headaches holistically, the worker wants to know the underlying cause of my headaches and treat that and not just the sympton. When we discuss food, rather than the cheapest ingredients and proceses out there, a more health forward approach has been taken, ostensibly.
GOOD Homemade Food – You can make foods at home, and it is really easy once you get the hang of it. I use Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide To Natural Health For Dogs & Cats. It is a great resource to look up health questions, natural remedies, as well as some great recipes. I make up my Healthy Powder and am ready for home made yumminess on the week-ends. Rhett is used to eating a varied diet, much like how we eat, so I like to change up his flavor profile so he doesn’t get bored.
Another terrific reference book is Martin Goldstein’s he Nature Of Animal Healing. There are some great natural ways to mitigate heartworm (Black Walnut) amongst other remedies. This is one of my ‘go to’ books when I want to look up a problem and how to resolve it.
Freeze Dried etc -There’s some really good raw, freeze dried and dehydrated options on the market today! I mentioned kibble is dehydrating. When you prepare home made meals either from scratch or by using something you can rehydrate in the kitchen, you are amping things up to a whole other level for your pet. I like things easy but healthy. Dr. Harveys Canine Health (and the entire line) is just fantastic! I am also a big fan of Honest Kitchen which has recently created a complete serve it dry like kibble offering called ‘clusters’ that we have our new puppy on. First you have freeze dried dog food that comes complete, you just add hot water to re-hydrate. If you are wanting to provide the protein source, they have great bases or mix-ins, like veg-to-Bowl, Oracle or Raw Vibrance and, Canine Health which has grains. Mix-ins are great to add in your protein of choice and particularly good for situations where you have to limit or add additional protein. What is great about it is that it’s organic, human grade,healthy wholesome ingredients created by folks that truly care about your pet.
I have used Dr. Harveys since Rhett was a puppy but a couple of years ago, after my holistic alternative vet retired, I was left floundering with how to continue to treat Rhett’s kidney issues. The vet we use for his regular blood work, just tossed a bag of Science Diet KD at me and that, I already knew, was the wrong path. Their eyes glazed right over as I ranted about GMOs, corn in the KD, pesticides if the food is not organic etc. My chart at the vet just says I am ‘refusing standard treatment due to lifestyle choices’ which sounded vaguely judge-y. But also, I find the stance very interesting because they are IN the health care business!
Your Vet is not trained on pet nutrition in veterinary school. Your vet should be primarily concerned with making your pet live the longest, highest quality life possible. When it comes to life saving emergency work and needed surgeries, Western medicine is where you need to go but sadly, unless you are seeing a well rounded holistic veterinarian, big pharma has already trained them on how to use (and sell) their pesticides and other medicines. Just as with us humans and WM docs, they seem mostly to understand how to prescribe more shots and prescriptions that make the pharmaceutical companies rich. And provide sub par foods that kill your companion far faster. The insideous business of this is that, as a vet, we trust them. We must take up the mantle of doing our own research here because there are so many great and wonderful things veterinary school teaches and a seasoned vet knows. Nutrition, unless they have taken it upon themselves to become certified in animal nutrition later, is not one of them.
A client recently told me to stop talking about food choices for her dog with recent diabetes. She was certain her vet would know more. I knew what would happen, I just had to back away and let it play out. She was prescribed Science Diet for her diabetic dog. But as she is my client, very bright and we talk quite a lot, she became concerned about all the corn (GMOs and Pesticides as it is NOT organic corn) in her dogs prescription diet, This is the best part….she went back to her vet, brilliant at medicating the diabetes…and voices her concern about the kibble. Her young vet sighs and calmly explains ‘These companies have been around for decades making and researching pet food. I am not going to recreate the wheel.’ In case you feel I am picking on the WM vet, I am not. You will find the same issues at most doctors offices. They will tell you veganism will kill you, that dairy is good for you and other misnomers. They just don’t have that training.
Seek Out Specialists – None of us can ‘do it all’. If you need guidance on food, go to a pet nutritionist who has certified in animal nutrition. If you need animal chiropractic, Massage or Acupuncture, go to a specialist certified in these modalities. Again, none of these things are taught in veterinary school. A vet may add these certifications to their training but keep in mind, none of us can do it all marvelously, so specializing works out best for your fur kid.
Our alternative vet retired. Due to China tainted meat in a big brands dog treats, Rhett ended up with Kidney failure or in TCM we like to say Kidney Deficiency which sounds so much better. I knew enough to be dangerous so I kept him going, however, I really wanted some guidance. In my website there is a page dedicated to recommended holistic wellness practitioners. Please see that if you are in the DFW area. The vet we used for Rhett’s bloodwork suggested Dr. Pam who was the only other alternative vet I knew of in the area. I spent 2 full years trying to get Rhett in to see her. She was always going to call me back and finally the 2nd year, stated through her admin that she was just too busy. I am sure she knows her stuff…but waiting 2 years and still no time means she is not in my recommended list. I have nothing to judge her off of as my pet could not get an appointment. Frustrated, I wrote to Dr. Harvey one day when ordering a sample of the new Paradigm food. Lo and behold, Dr. Harvey called me back. He continued checking up on Rhett, offering help which is very appreciated. This is very appreciated as my WM vet I was seeing had Rhett, a 100lb Doberman, on 8oz of protein every 3 days, meaning I would make up a batch of his food adding only 8 oz of protein for a 3 day span and when his BUN was still elevated to reflect early stage renal, she suggested dropping his protein lower. The boy lost 10lbs of muscle in 3 weeks and continued to get skeletal. He got some gray hair, noooooo. I spoke with another vet who stated older dogs actually require more protein as they don’t metabolize it as well as they did when young. The trick was getting enough protein without too much to send his kidneys over the edge. Feed him as much protein as you can without seeing issues was the new plan. Rhett went from 86lbs back to 100 where he looked awesome. His original fighting weight was 115. 100 looked good on him. His hair came back rust and tan again. He looked good. Rhett remained in ‘Early stage’ renal from just over a year old until his death at 9.5 years old. We assume a massive heart attack but it wasn’t, in the end, the kidneys that took him out. I attribute this longevity of damaged kidneys to all the great holistic food and superfoods and detox herbals etc that he was on. He was not subjected to annual shots, his water was purified and he ate so well.
Sickness and death happen to us all. None of us gets out of here alive. That stated, we can all let food be thy medicine and do our best to support companies that truly care, do our research and make the better choices that improve our quality of life. The first thing people always said (up to the day he died, 9.25.19 while on a play date, whenever they saw Rhett, was ‘What a handsome and healthy dog!’ Rhett looked like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Dobermans. I believe he had good genetics and next it was the food that helped him reach his maximum potential.
TOXINS – RAW VS COOKED – When you cook anything, particularly at high temps, you ruin the natural enzymes and you create toxins that the body has to rid itself of in the digestion of the product. Raw or low cooked foods are best, for us and for them. I go for fresh organic meats for our new puppy so that her growing body doesn’t have to work so hard at digesting it. Then I add in greens, like wheatgrass, Chinese Chlorella, Klammath Lake blue-green algae, along with walks and massage.
Some other sites I go to frequently are: Onlynaturalpets.com, Petwellbeing.com, pawhealer.com and fiveleafpharmacy.com.
Hope that this information helps you and I’d love to hear about it!